The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia

Orlando Figes, Author
Orlando Figes, Author . Holt $35 (739p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7461-1
Reviewed on: 07/23/2007
Release date: 11/01/2007
Paperback - 739 pages - 978-0-312-42803-7
Paperback - 739 pages - 978-0-14-101351-0
Open Ebook - 784 pages - 978-1-4668-2923-7
Hardcover - 800 pages - 978-0-7139-9702-6
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One in eight people in the Soviet Union were victims of Stalin's terror—virtually no family was untouched by purges, the gulag, forced collectivization and resettlement, says Figes in this nuanced, highly textured look at personal life under Soviet rule. Relying heavily on oral history, Figes, winner of an L.A. Times Book Prize for A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891–1924 , highlights how individuals attempted to maintain a sense of self even in the worst years of the Stalinist purges. More often than not, they learned to stay silent and conform, even after Khrushchev's thaw lifted the veil on some of Stalin's crimes. Figes shows how, beginning with the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, the Soviet experience radically changed personal and family life. People denied their experiences, roots and their condemned relatives in order to survive and, in some cases, thrive. At the same time, Soviet residents achieved great things, including the defeat of the Nazis in WWII, that Russians remember with pride. By seamlessly integrating the political, cultural and social with the stories of particular people and families, Figes retells all of Soviet history and enlarges our understanding of it. Photos. (Oct. 2)

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